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April 21 2014

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Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy On How To Make It—And Her Picks For The Ones Who Will

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Finding new talent can be a little like falling in love. Just ask Fashion East‘s Lulu Kennedy. “Sometimes it can be like love at first sight, but more often than not, they’re a ‘grower,’ ” says the founder of London’s talent showcase with ten years and a “greatest hits” collection, Lulu & Co, to its credit. “Often you see things that are not presented very well, are half-finished or shot badly on a digital camera, but I’m always prepared to wait if someone looks like they will be amazing in a year or so.”

Kennedy has launched the careers of many of London’s hottest names—Richard Nicoll, Jonathan Saunders, Gareth Pugh, Louise Gray, Marios Schwab, Roksanda Ilincic, Meadham Kirchhoff, Michael van der Ham, and on and on—so who better to give a little good advice on how to make the fashion grade?

“What I first tell designers is that you can’t do it alone,” says Kennedy. “Having a great team around you is the most important thing. And if you come across a brilliant intern, do whatever it takes to hold on to them; they could be the person you really rely on in a few years’ time.

“Secondly, find the right backer. Creative people aren’t always good at all the backend stuff, so finding a great business partner is essential.

“And get organized. Do a list of everything you need to do. As it gets frantic nearer the show, that list will only get longer and longer as you cross things off. There are no short cuts; if you want to have a lasting career in fashion, you really do have to put the hours in.”

Last, but by no means least? “Just go for it,” says Kennedy. “Be fearless and find the most creative solution to anything that comes up. And always keep a sense of humor. Keep it fun! When we started, Fashion East was really the lone voice behind young designers. Now the whole of London fashion week has opened up to new talent and London is really having a moment.”

And who, according to the eagle-eyed talent spotter, is having her own moment this season? “Simone Rocha,” Kennedy says of the young Irish designer, now in her second season with Fashion East. “I’m really into her vision of how to dress; it’s cool, no-fuss, and modern but without being too minimalist or uptight.” She also rhapsodizes about James Long’s womenswear—”he’s the darling of the London menswear scene and everyone is buzzing about what he’ll do for women. It’s looking really strong”—and Martine Rose’s menswear. “I love her range of youth culture references—Buffalo, Mod, sportswear, and dancehall,” Kennedy adds. “It’s so fresh, so London, so ‘now.’ ” Rose will show during the menswear day on Wednesday; Long and Rocha hit the catwalk as part of Kennedy’s Fashion East presentation today.

Photo: Dave M. Bennett / Getty Images

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